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Deadly fire below US President’s Trump Tower residence

August 20th, 2018

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On Saturday, the Trump Tower, in Midtown, New York City, caught fire shortly before 18:00 EST (2200 UTC) on the 50th floor, claiming the life of a 67-year-old resident, Todd Brassner, who lived in apartment 50C. All other residents were evacuated without incident. During the fire, six firefighters received non-life-threatening burns and other minor injuries. Neither US President Donald Trump nor the First Family were in the building at the time of the fire.

The high-end Fifth Avenue address is the personal residence of President Donald Trump, whose family occupies the top three stories of the 58-story building. The US Secret Service maintains a constant security presence inside the building with the New York City Police Department guarding a hard perimeter, intended to stop vehicular attacks, and a soft perimeter, intended for on-foot attacks.

The four-alarm fire required 200 firemen, extra police, and paramedics. At 20:00 EST (0000 UTC Sunday), the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) declared the fire was under control. Trump tweeted, “Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!” This is the second fire at Trump Tower since the election; previously on January 8, a fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in a cooling tower on the roof. Three FDNY firefighters received minor injuries, and all residents and office workers evacuated without incident on that occasion.

Trump Tower provides a number of unique problems never before encountered by the Secret Service. Never has a US President’s personal residence been inside a skyscraper or in a densely populated area like Midtown. The security measures have disrupted vehicular and pedestrian traffic requiring time consuming detours and delaying emergency response.

The New York Fire Code did not mandate sprinkler systems at the time Trump Tower was built in 1983, which might have reduced the size and severity of the fire had they been present. The 50th-floor apartment was, according to FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, “[T]he apartment was virtually, entirely on fire.” The Secret Service monitors all the fire alarms in the building but it took time to find the source of the thick black smoke emanating from the fire. Secret Service Agents escorted the firefighters throughout the building, including the Trump residence.

Brassner, the sole casualty, was unconscious when firefighters pulled him out of apartment 50C. He was transported to Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital. Originally listed as critical, he was pronounced dead sometime during the night. Brassner, guitar collector, was acquainted with artist Andy Warhol and was acknowledged in Warhol’s 1989 autobiography, The Andy Warhol Diaries. The cause of the fire is unknown, with investigations into Brassner’s death and the emergency response ongoing. Currently, the Secret Service leads the investigation.

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Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

August 19th, 2018

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

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Sadr City suicide bomber uses fruit truck to kill 66 on market day

August 19th, 2018

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Sunday, July 2, 2006

A suicide bomber exploded a truck bomb in the crowded Al-Ula market in Sadr City in Baghdad on Saturday, killing 66 people and injuring over a 100.

‘At the beginning of this market, the criminal blew up his dynamite-packed truck after trying to go over the pavement,’ said Iraq’s Deputy Health Minister Sabah al-Hussein.

The explosion happened when a police patrol was passing by and caused heavy casualties in the morning market rush. Some shoppers were sent flying on top of nearby two-storey buildings.

The force of the blast left a large crater and wreckage of blown-out cars and windowless buildings. Rescuers were left to pick through a sickening scene of human remains mixed in with exploded vegetable matter and dead animals.

Sadr City, a Shiite city of two million in which religious leader Moqtada Sadr has found popular support, had many times before been targeted by Sunni terrorists who were blamed by some residents for this attack.

It was the deadliest bombing of civilians since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s government assumed responsibility for domestic security in May 2006.

Experts said the truck bomb was a lethal concoction of explosives, shells and shrapnel hidden under a consignment of fruit. The driver of the truck blew himself up in the explosion.

Significance of a top quality driving lesson

by

whitejohn

Many things we do in life we learn from others. Driving is one of these things. There are many different ways that a person can learn to drive. A family member could teach them, or they may opt to take some form of driving lessons. There are a wide variety of options that are available for someone that wants to take driving lessons. Let’s look into some of them now. Some people want to learn from a driving teacher. This route offers the coaching of a teacher that sits in the car with you as you drive with them. They will explain how to manoeuvre the vehicle in the manner that is necessary to achieve certain results, such as parallel parking. This seems to be one of the most difficult tasks that new driver’s seem to have trouble with.

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They use vehicle’s that have been set up with an extra brake in them on the passenger side of the car so that the teacher can do something if he or she feels the need. This can be a great way for beginners to learn what they need to know but it also can be costly if they are paying per lesson and they require quite a few lessons. There are also driver’s education courses that schools often offer to the students. Doing this includes both in classroom type of training as well as in car at one fixed price. This could be one of the more economical ways for someone to learn how to drive. Many parents prefer this option to others for this reason in particular, especially in the tough economic times that we are in at the present time. Both of these are great picks but keep in mind that there are important things that must be looked into. Make sure that the instructor is certified and that everything is legal with the proper agencies. Also shop around as the prices will fluctuate from area to area. The number of lessons that are required is another thing that can be a cost factor as well so be sure to see if there are any special prices for bulk driving lessons. Thinking things out well before you do it is very important once again. Another way that a person can learn to drive is through family members. This can be a good way for people that are on a very tight budget as the only real cost is that of the fuel needed for the car. Be aware though that come family members may not be the best driver’s out there and there are things that you may be taught that are incorrect when it comes to when you take the real driving test. There are now websites that offer written tests that can help the new driver to prepare for the written part of testing that they have to take in order to get their license. darshandrivingschool.com.au/

I am webmaster of darshandrivingschool.com.au and article writer. Darshan driving School in melbourne is one of the best driving Instructors in melbourne.Our driving school serves for all suburbs in Melbourne. cheap driving lessons Melbourne,cheap driving school melbourne,cheapest driving school,cheapest driving schools,cheapest driving school Melbourne.

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“Piano Man” is not British actor, search down to three leads

August 18th, 2018

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 Correction — May 30, 2005 As noted below, there is no relationship between the “Piano Man” and Geoffrey Betts. While the speculative nature of this article was clearly pointed out from the beginning, Wikinews would nevertheless like to apologize to Mr. Betts for any inconvenience it may have caused. (See also Wikinews editor CGorman’s apology.) 

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wikinews reported on May 17 that several weeks earlier British police had picked up an unidentified man wandering the streets of Sheerness, United Kingdom. The man who has thus far refused to talk, has demonstrated himself to be an excellent pianist—earning him the nickname Piano Man.

Since publication of our first article, we have been contacted by a fellow wiki contributor informing us that the Piano Man may be a British actor named Geoffrey Betts. Although our contact strongly believed he knew the identity of the man and contacted the relevant authorities in regard to his belief, this has turned out to be false. While Betts was not reachable by phone or e-mail, his website was recently updated to the effect that he is not the man in question. In the meantime, the search for the identity has been narrowed down to three leads by authorities.

The original interview between Wikinews editor CGorman and contributor Steve Magruder is reproduced below.

Race to save Chilean miners trapped underground from spiralling into depression continues

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Race to save Chilean miners trapped underground from spiralling into depression continues

August 17th, 2018

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

It has emerged that the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground after the mine they were working in collapsed could be brought to the surface in a shorter time than was initially feared. While officials publicly announced that the men would not be brought to the surface until Christmas, sources inside technical meetings have revealed that they could in fact be on the surface by early November. The news comes as families were allowed to speak by radio-telephone to their trapped loved ones on Sunday. Over the weekend, video images filmed by the miners emerged showing the miners playing dominoes at a table and singing the Chilean national anthem. The miners also used the camera to send video messages to their families on the surface, saying that they regularly broke into tears, but were feeling better having received food and water.

The grainy nightvision images, filmed on a high definition camcorder that was sent down a small shaft to the mine, show the men in good spirits, chanting “long live Chile, and long live the miners.” They are unshaven and stripped to the waist because of the heat underground, and are seen wearing white clinical trousers that have been designed to keep them dry. Giving a guided tour of the area they are occupying, Mario Sepúlveda, one of the miners, explains they have a “little cup to brush our teeth”, and a place where they pray each day. “We have everything organized,” he tells the camera. Gesturing to the table in the center of the room, he says that “we meet here every day. We plan, we have assemblies here every day so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33.” Another unidentified miner asks to rescuers, “get us out of here soon, please.” A thermometer is shown in the video, reading 29.5C (85F).

As the film continues, it becomes evident that the miners have stuck a poster of a topless woman on the wall. The miners appear shy, and one man puts his hand to his face, presumably dazzled by the light mounted on the cameraman’s helmet. One miner sent a message to his family. “Be calm”, he says. “We’re going to get out of here. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts.” Another said that the miners are “sure that there are people here in Chile that are big people, that are powerful people, that are intelligent people, and they have the technology and they will all work together to get us out of here.” Speaking to the camera, one says: “we have had the great fortune that trapped in this mine there are good, professional people. We have electricians, we have mechanics, we have machine operators and we will let you know that while you are working to rescue us on the surface, we are down here ready to help you too.” It has been reported that Mario Gómez, 63, has become the group’s “spiritual leader”, having worked in the mines for over fifty years. He has requested that materials to build a shrine be sent down to the cavern.

Upon seeing the video in a private screening, family members, who are living in a small village of tents at the entrance to the San José copper-gold mine—which they have named Camp Hope—were elated. “He’s skinny, bearded and it was painful to see him with his head hanging down, but I am so happy to see him alive”, said Ruth Contreras, the mother of Carlos Bravo, who is trapped in the mine. The video, of which only a small portion has been released to the public, shows the miners, many of them wearing helmets, cracking jokes and thanking the rescuers for their continued efforts. The supplies are being sent to the men through a small shaft only twelve centimeters wide, and a laboratory has been set up with the purpose of designing collapsible cots and miniature sandwiches, which can be sent down such a narrow space.

CNN reported on Friday that “officials are splitting the men into two shifts so one group sleeps while the other works or has leisure time .. On average, each man has lost 22 pounds (10 kilograms) since they became trapped three weeks ago, and dehydration remains a threat. But a survey of the men indicates that at least nine miners are still too overweight to fit through the proposed rescue shaft. Initially, the miners survived by draining water from a water-cooled piece of equipment. To stay hydrated in the 90-degree mine, each miner must drink eight or nine pints of water per day.”

But while there are jubilant celebrations on the surface that the miners are alive, officials are now nervous that the miners could become depressed, trapped in a dark room the size of a small apartment. Chilean health minister Jaime Mañalich said that, on the video, he saw the telltale signs of depression. “They are more isolated, they don’t want to be on the screen, they are not eating well”, he said. “I would say depression is the correct word.” He said that doctors who had watched the video had observed the men suffering from “severe dermatological problems.” Dr. Rodrigo Figueroa, head of the trauma, stress and disaster unit at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, explained that “following the euphoria of being discovered, the normal psychological reaction would be for the men to collapse in a combination of fatigue and stress … People who are trained for emergencies – like these miners – tend to minimize their own needs or to ignore them. When it is time to ask for help, they don’t.” NASA has advised emergency workers that entertaining the miners would be a good idea. They are to be sent a television system complete with taped football matches. Another dilemma facing Mañalich is whether the miners should be permitted to smoke underground. While nicotine gum has been delivered to the miners, sending down cigarettes is a plan that has not been ruled out.

With the news that drilling of the main rescue tunnel was expected to begin on Monday, officials have informed the media that they hope to have the miners out of the mine by Christmas—but sources with access to technical meetings have suggested that the miners could actually be rescued by the first week of November. A news report described the rescue plan—”the main focus is a machine that bores straight down to 688m and creates a chimney-type duct that could be used to haul the miners out one by one in a rescue basket. A second drilling operation will attempt to intercept a mining tunnel at a depth of roughly 350m. The miners would then have to make their way through several miles of dark, muddy tunnels and meet the rescue drill at roughly the halfway point of their current depth of 688m.” Iván Viveros Aranas, a Chilean policeman working at Camp Hope, told reporters that Chile “has shown a unity regardless of religion or social class. You see people arriving here just to volunteer, they have no relation at all to these families.”

But over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the “miners who have astonished the world with their discipline a half-mile underground will have to aid their own escape — clearing 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday … The work will require about a half-dozen men working in shifts 24 hours a day.” Andrés Sougarret, a senior engineer involved in operating the drill said that “the miners are going to have to take out all that material as it falls.”

The families of those trapped were allowed to speak to them by radio-telephone on Sunday—a possibility that brought reassurance both the miners and those on the surface. The Intendant of the Atacama Region, Ximena Matas, said that there had been “moments of great emotion.” She continued to say that the families “listened with great interest and they both felt and realized that the men are well. This has been a very important moment, which no doubt strengthens their [the miners’] morale.” The phone line is thought to be quite temperamental, but it is hoped that soon, those in the mine and those in Camp Hope will be able to talk every day. “To hear his voice was a balm to my heart … He is aware that the rescue is not going to happen today, that it will take some time. He asked us to stay calm as everything is going to be OK … He sounded relaxed and since it was so short I didn’t manage to ask anything. Twenty seconds was nothing”, said said Jessica Cortés, who spoke to her husband Víctor Zamora, who was not even a miner, but a vehicle mechanic. “He went in that day because a vehicle had broken down inside the mine … At first they told us he had been crushed [to death].”

Esteban Rojas sent up a letter from inside the mine, proposing to his long-time partner Jessica Yáñez, 43. While they have officially been married for 25 years, their wedding was a civil service—but Rojas has now promised to have a church ceremony which is customary in Chile. “Please keep praying that we get out of this alive. And when I do get out, we will buy a dress and get married,” the letter read. Yáñez told a newspaper that she thought he was never going to ask her. “We have talked about it before, but he never asked me … He knows that however long it takes, I’ll wait for him, because with him I’ve been through good and bad.”

2007 Alcon Taiwan Hiking focuses on reducing computing hours

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2007 Alcon Taiwan Hiking focuses on reducing computing hours

August 17th, 2018

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

After “Taiwan Orbis & Standard Chartered Bank Charity Walking” last week at Guandu Nature Park, the main organizer Alcon Taiwan held a hiking activity with “Love Your Eyes Without Computing” topic at Taipei Municipal Fude Elementary School and Tiger Mountain Trail in Taipei City, Taiwan. This is the third year Alcon Taiwan held a similar activity after hiking last year and 5KM running around Taipei City Hall two years ago.

At the Press Conference two weeks ago, Alcon Taiwan announced a questionnaire about “Acknowledgment on Eye-Caring and Eyes for PC Screen in Taiwan”. According to the questionnaire, lots of people especially younger people watched PC screen more than seven hours and caused a bad phenomenon in Taiwan. That’s why Alcon Taiwan named this hiking activity slogan as “Love Your Eyes Without Computing”. Alcon Taiwan hoped people in Taiwan can reduce computing hours and rest appropriately.

The main organizer invited Taiwanese famous entertainer Sun Peng and Di Ying supporting and named as “Eye-Caring Ambassadors”. Sun mentioned on restrictions and policies with his family to keep a good eyesight at their family. He hoped his children have a bright future with a good eyesight.

“With a serious condition on red-eye symptom in Taiwan, lots of people may have a worse result without correct treatments and acknowledgments, if anyone affected this symptom, that one should go to hospital for the treatment with medical professionals”, Sheng-mou Ho (Minister of Department of Health, Executive Yuan of R.O.C., Taiwan) remarked. “The ages of nearsightedness people is progressively decreasing, it caused diopters of younger people increasing progressively. Parents should tell their children about correct acknowledgments on eye-caring for their future.”

After the hiking activity, organizers and sponsors set gaming and eye checking-up booths for participants and also held seminars to provide the how-to with good eyesight keeping. In the main stage, not only shows and performances, the organizer also held a creative modeling show to encourage participants absorbing good nutritions for a good eyesight.

Wikipedia founder embroiled in affair and financial allegations

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Wikipedia founder embroiled in affair and financial allegations

August 16th, 2018

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The implosion of a relationship between Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and journalist Rachel Marsden has resulted in controversy and international headlines. Associated Press and ABC News have also reported on questionable activity by Wales involving Wikimedia Foundation expenses. The Wikimedia Foundation is a donor-supported non-profit organization which runs Wikipedia.

Marsden had contacted Wales two years ago about concerns she had over the article about her on Wikipedia, and Wales determined the article was not compliant with Wikipedia’s standards. The tech blog Valleywag revealed Wales had a personal relationship with Marsden, and posted supposed transcripts of their instant message conversations on its site, www.valleywag.com. Wales and Marsden met in February, and The Times reported that “An apparent transcript of their conversations before that meeting suggests that, although Mr Wales had withdrawn from the editing process, he was still influencing the editors.” The Times quoted Wales from the chat logs as having stated to Marsden “The truth is of course a much worse conflict of interest than that; but that will do.” — in reference to his conflict of interest regarding Marsden’s article on Wikipedia.

Wales posted a public statement on Saturday on Wikipedia addressing the matter, and stated that his relationship with Marsden was over: “First, while I find it hard to imagine that anyone really cares about my sex life, the facts are: I am separated from my wife. I considered myself single at the time of my one meeting with Rachel Marsden on Feb. 9, 2008 … I am no longer involved with Rachel Marsden. Gossipy stories suggesting that I have been in a relationship with her ‘since last fall’ are completely false … I care deeply about the integrity of Wikipedia, and take very seriously my responsibilities as a member of the board and as a member of the Wikipedia community. I would never knowingly do anything to compromise that trust.” With regard to the conflict of interest in Marsden’s article, Wales had acknowledged to a team of Wikipedia editors in February 2008 that he and Marsden “became friends … and that we would be meeting about that,” and stated “I recused myself from any further official action with respect to her biography.”

On Sunday, The Canadian Press reported that Marsden had posted photos of herself on Ebay, and was selling items that Wales had left at her New York City apartment. In her Ebay posting, Marsden stated: “Hi, my name is Rachel and my (now ex-) boyfriend, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, just broke up with me via an announcement on Wikipedia … It was such a classy move that I was inspired to do something equally classy myself, so I’m selling a couple of items of clothing he left behind, here in my NYC apartment, on eBay. Jimbo was supposed to come visit me in a couple of weeks and pick up some of his stuff, but obviously that won’t be happening now.” Marsden told The Canadian Press “It didn’t really help matters that Jimmy chose to announce the breakup to the entire world via Wikipedia (which apparently now is an online encyclopedia that doubles as a personal soapbox?) rather than to me directly (which he did much later, in an instant message discussion).”

I care deeply about the integrity of Wikipedia, and take very seriously my responsibilities as a member of the board and as a member of the Wikipedia community. I would never knowingly do anything to compromise that trust.

Marsden placed a t-shirt and sweater which she said were left at her apartment by Wales up on Ebay, and started the bidding for each at ninety-nine cents, with the auctions set to end on March 12. By Monday, bidding on the t-shirt had reached US$300, and by Tuesday the highest bid had reached $12,200. In an email to The Globe and Mail, Marsden stated “My only focus right now, to be really honest, is on my career and finding a way to get back into print, TV, or radio here in NYC,” she wrote. “All of this other personal stuff is just an unfortunate distraction.”

Jay Walsh, the Wikimedia Foundation’s head of communications, told the San Jose Mercury News that Wales’ actions in relaying Marsden’s concerns about her Wikipedia article to a team of trusted editors was within his “routine” role. When asked by the San Jose Mercury News if Wales’ actions regarding the Marsden article could compromise his role with the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia, Walsh responded “No, absolutely not.”

On Tuesday, ABC News carried a story by Wired News reporter Megan McCarthy regarding allegations of “excessive spending” by Wales, and Associated Press also reported on questions involving Wikimedia Foundation expenses. McCarthy reported that former Wikimedia executive Danny Wool, who had left the foundation last year, criticized Wales’ use of Wikimedia Foundation expenses in a blog post. Wool stated that Wales had tried to expense $300 bottles of wine, a $1,300 dinner for four at a Florida steakhouse, and visits to Moscow massage parlors to the foundation, and that the foundation rescinded Wales’ corporate credit card in 2006. Wool also stated that Wales paid the foundation $7,000, after being short $30,000 on receipts for expenses.

Wool told EPICENTER that “There were occasions where he used [the Wikimedia Foundation] for personal advancement under the guide [sic] of the mission. And, as someone who was in there for the mission part of it, I found that rather distressful.” Wool commented in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle: “Originally, it was carelessness … But as things developed, it became more apparent and obvious that he was taking advantage of the foundation credit card. It was almost like his personal piggy bank.”

Jimmy has never used Wikimedia money to subsidize his personal expenditures. Indeed, he has consistently put the foundation’s interests ahead of his own.

In an instant message exchange with Associated Press, Wales denied that the Wikimedia Foundation had taken away his corporate credit card, and asserted that he had made the decision to stop expensing business travel for the foundation. Wales highlighted a statement by the foundation’s executive director Sue Gardner: “Jimmy has never used Wikimedia money to subsidize his personal expenditures. Indeed, he has consistently put the foundation’s interests ahead of his own.” In an email to Associated Press, Brad Patrick, a former attorney for the Wikimedia Foundation, stated “Danny seems interested in blogging his way straight to a lawsuit”.

Florence Devouard, who chairs the Wikimedia Foundation, told Associated Press that Wales had been “slow in submitting receipts,” and that the foundation had rejected Wales’ expense at the Florida steakhouse. Devouard told fellow foundation board members in a private email that she had convinced Associated Press that “the money story was a no story,” and told Wales “I find (it) tiring to see how you are constantly trying to rewrite the past. Get a grip!” Wales told Associated Press: “The board, the current executive director, the previous executive director, and independent auditors have reviewed our books and publicly agree that all of my expenses were appropriate and fully accounted for.”

Media reports speculated on how the controversy would end up being represented in Wikipedia itself. On Wednesday, the St. Petersburg Times wrote: “Wales’ Wikipedia page said only this about Marsden: ‘Wales had a brief relationship with Canadian journalist Rachel Marsden.'” An article in The Australian surmised: “History will decide whether Mr Wales broke his own principles, but before that happens there may well be a Wikipedia page devoted to the controversy.”

Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?

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Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?

August 15th, 2018

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone is currently, courtesy of the Israeli government and friends, visiting Israel. This is a first-hand account of his experiences and may — as a result — not fully comply with Wikinews’ neutrality policy. Please note this is a journalism experiment for Wikinews and put constructive criticism on the collaboration page.

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Dr. Yossi Vardi is known as Israel’s ‘Father of the Entrepreneur’, and he has many children in the form of technology companies he has helped to incubate in Tel Aviv‘s booming Internet sector. At the offices of Superna, one such company, he introduced a whirlwind of presentations from his baby incubators to a group of journalists. What stuck most in my head was when Vardi said, “What is important is not the technology, but the talent.” Perhaps because he repeated this after each young Internet entrepreneur showed us his or her latest creation under Vardi’s tutelage. I had a sense of déjà vu from this mantra. A casual reader of the newspapers during the Dot.com boom will remember a glut of stories that could be called “The Rise of the Failure”; people whose technology companies had collapsed were suddenly hot commodities to start up new companies. This seemingly paradoxical thinking was talked about as new back then; but even Thomas Edison—the Father of Invention—is oft-quoted for saying, “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

Vardi’s focus on encouraging his brood of talent regardless of the practicalities stuck out to me because of a recent pair of “dueling studies” The New York Times has printed. These are the sort of studies that confuse parents on how to raise their kids. The first, by Carol Dweck at Stanford University, came to the conclusion that children who are not praised for their efforts, regardless of the outcome’s success, rarely attempt more challenging and complex pursuits. According to Dweck’s study, when a child knows that they will receive praise for being right instead of for tackling difficult problems, even if they fail, they will simply elect to take on easy tasks in which they are assured of finding the solution.

Only one month earlier the Times produced another story for parents to agonize over, this time based on a study from the Brookings Institution, entitled “Are Kids Getting Too Much Praise?” Unlike Dweck’s clinical study, Brookings drew conclusions from statistical data that could be influenced by a variety of factors (since there was no clinical control). The study found American kids are far more confident that they have done well than their Korean counterparts, even when the inverse is true. The Times adds in the words of a Harvard faculty psychologist who intoned, “Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments. It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.” But this is not the first time the self-esteem generation’s proponents have been criticized.

Vardi clearly would find himself encouraged by Dweck’s study, though, based upon how often he seemed to ask us to keep our eyes on the people more than the products. That’s not to say he has not found his latest ICQ, though only time—and consumers—will tell.

For a Web 2.User like myself, I was most fascinated by Fixya, a site that, like Wikipedia, exists on the free work of people with knowledge. Fixya is a tech support site where people who are having problems with equipment ask a question and it is answered by registered “experts.” These experts are the equivalent of Wikipedia’s editors: they are self-ordained purveyors of solutions. But instead of solving a mystery of knowledge a reader has in their head, these experts solve a problem related to something you have bought and do not understand. From baby cribs to cellular phones, over 500,000 products are “supported” on Fixya’s website. The Fixya business model relies upon the good will of its experts to want to help other people through the ever-expanding world of consumer appliances. But it is different from Wikipedia in two important ways. First, Fixya is for-profit. The altruistic exchange of information is somewhat dampened by the knowledge that somebody, somewhere, is profiting from whatever you give. Second, with Wikipedia it is very easy for a person to type in a few sentences about a subject on an article about the Toshiba Satellite laptop, but to answer technical problems a person is experiencing seems like a different realm. But is it? “It’s a beautiful thing. People really want to help other people,” said the presenter, who marveled at the community that has already developed on Fixya. “Another difference from Wikipedia is that we have a premium content version of the site.” Their premium site is where they envision making their money. Customers with a problem will assign a dollar amount based upon how badly they need an answer to a question, and the expert-editors of Fixya will share in the payment for the resolved issue. Like Wikipedia, reputation is paramount to Fixya’s experts. Whereas Wikipedia editors are judged by how they are perceived in the Wiki community, the amount of barnstars they receive and by the value of their contributions, Fixya’s customers rate its experts based upon the usefulness of their advice. The site is currently working on offering extended warranties with some manufacturers, although it was not clear how that would work on a site that functioned on the work of any expert.

Another collaborative effort product presented to us was YouFig, which is software designed to allow a group of people to collaborate on work product. This is not a new idea, although may web-based products have generally fallen flat. The idea is that people who are working on a multi-media project can combine efforts to create a final product. They envision their initial market to be academia, but one could see the product stretching to fields such as law, where large litigation projects with high-level of collaboration on both document creation and media presentation; in business, where software aimed at product development has generally not lived up to its promises; and in the science and engineering fields, where multi-media collaboration is quickly becoming not only the norm, but a necessity.

For the popular consumer market, Superna, whose offices hosted our meeting, demonstrated their cost-saving vision for the Smart Home (SH). Current SH systems require a large, expensive server in order to coordinate all the electronic appliances in today’s air-conditioned, lit and entertainment-saturated house. Such coordinating servers can cost upwards of US$5,000, whereas Superna’s software can turn a US$1,000 hand-held tablet PC into household remote control.

There were a few start-ups where Vardi’s fatherly mentoring seemed more at play than long-term practical business modeling. In the hot market of WiFi products, WeFi is software that will allow groups of users, such as friends, share knowledge about the location of free Internet WiFi access, and also provide codes and keys for certain hot spots, with access provided only to the trusted users within a group. The mock-up that was shown to us had a Google Maps-esque city block that had green points to the known hot spots that are available either for free (such as those owned by good Samaritans who do not secure their WiFi access) or for pay, with access information provided for that location. I saw two long-term problems: first, WiMAX, which is able to provide Internet access to people for miles within its range. There is already discussion all over the Internet as to whether this technology will eventually make WiFi obsolete, negating the need to find “hot spots” for a group of friends. Taiwan is already testing an island-wide WiMAX project. The second problem is if good Samaritans are more easily located, instead of just happened-upon, how many will keep their WiFi access free? It has already become more difficult to find people willing to contribute to free Internet. Even in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, I have come across several secure wireless users who named their network “Fuck Off” in an in-your-face message to freeloaders.

Another child of Vardi’s that the Brookings Institution might say was over-praised for self-esteem but lacking real accomplishment is AtlasCT, although reportedly Nokia offered to pay US$8.1 million for the software, which they turned down. It is again a map-based software that allows user-generated photographs to be uploaded to personalized street maps that they can share with friends, students, colleagues or whomever else wants to view a person’s slideshow from their vacation to Paris (“Dude, go to the icon over Boulevard Montmartre and you’ll see this girl I thought was hot outside the Hard Rock Cafe!”) Aside from the idea that many people probably have little interest in looking at the photo journey of someone they know (“You can see how I traced the steps of Jesus in the Galilee“), it is also easy to imagine Google coming out with its own freeware that would instantly trump this program. Although one can see an e-classroom in architecture employing such software to allow students to take a walking tour through Rome, its desirability may be limited.

Whether Vardi is a smart parent for his encouragement, or in fact propping up laggards, is something only time will tell him as he attempts to bring these products of his children to market. The look of awe that came across each company’s representative whenever he entered the room provided the answer to the question of Who’s your daddy?

2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

August 14th, 2018

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Friday, March 3, 2006

The possibility of large-scale protests in the face of the 3,000 journalists covering the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, has event organisers and the Government worried.

The group “Black GST” – which represents Indigenous Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty – are planning demonstrations at prominent Games events unless the Government agrees to a range of demands including an end to Aboriginal genocide, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the signing of a treaty.

The Black GST say they hope the focus of the world’s media will draw attention to the plight of indigenous Australians during the Games. Organisers say supporters are converging from across Australia and from overseas. Organisers say up to 20,000 people may take part in talks, rallies, colourful protests and many cultural festivities designed to pressure the Federal Government on Indigeneous rights issues. They want the Government to provide a temporary campsite for the supporters, saying “organised chaos was better than disorganised chaos.”

The 2006 Stolenwealth Games convergence, described by organisers as the “cultural festival of the 2006 Commonwealth Games,” was virtually opened on March 2nd with the launch of the official “Stolenwealth Games” website. Scoop Independent News and Perth Indymedia reported that the launch was held at Federation Square in Melbourne. The site contents were projected via wireless laptop by the Stolenwealth Games General Manager, and a tour of the website was given on the big screen. He said “overwhelming amusement was the response from the audience.” The group say permanent access points to the website are being set up at public internet facilities across Victoria during the coming weeks.

“Interest in the Stolenwealth Games is building all over the world and this fresh, exciting and contemporary site will draw in people from Stolenwealth Nations around the globe to find out about the latest news and events,” said a Stolenwealth Games spokesperson. “We have been getting many requests from around the world wanting to know about the Stolenwealth Games. We have provided many ways that individuals and organisations can support the campaign by spreading the word.”

The Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group (VTOLJG) which represents the first nation groups of Victoria, has announced its support to boycott the 2006 Commonwealth Games until the Government “recognises Traditional Owner rights.” The group asserts that culture has been misappropriated in preparation for the Games.

Organisers of the campaign say they welcome the formal support from the Traditional Owners. “While some seek to divide and discredit Indigenous Australia, this support is further evidence that the Aboriginal people are united in opposition to the ongoing criminal genocide that is being perpetrated against the Aboriginal people” said Black GST supporter and Aboriginal Elder, Robbie Thorpe.

“We now have endorsement from the VTOLJG and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the aims and objectives of the Campaign and we are looking forward to hosting all indigenous and non-indigenous supporters from across Australia in March,” he said. The Black GST group have said “the convergence will be held as a peaceful, family-focussed demonstration against genocide, and for the restoration of sovereignty and the negotiations towards a Treaty.”

But the campaign has received flak in mainstream media, such as Melbourne’s Herald Sun, who wrote: “the proposal to allow BlackGST to set up an Aboriginal tent embassy at a site well away from the Commonwealth Games will be interpreted by some as the State Government caving in to a radical protest group. A major concern for the Government… is to protect the event from disruption… no chances should be taken…”

The Black GST has been planning the convergence for months, calling for Aboriginal people and their supporters to converge on Melbourne. The Melbourne-based Indigenous rights group have called on thousands of people concerned about the plight of indigenous Australians to converge on Melbourne during the Games, which they have dubbed “the Stolenwealth Games”. But the choice of Kings Domain has made conflict almost inevitable, as the area is one of the areas gazetted by the State Government as a “Games management zone”.

Under the Commonwealth Games Arrangements Act, any area gazetted as a management zone is subject to a range of specific laws – including bans on protesting, creating a disturbance and other activities. The protest bans will be in effect at different times and places, and offenders can be arrested. A spokeswoman for the Black GST, which advocates peaceful protest, said the site had been chosen because it was close to where the Queen will stay on March 15. “We figured that she is only in Melbourne for 27 hours or something like that so we thought we would make it easy for her to come next door and see us,” she said. “We are a very open, welcoming group, so she will be welcome to come and join us.”

Kings Domain is the burial site for 38 indigenous forefathers of Victoria. Black GST elder, Targan, said trade union groups have offered to install infrastructure at the site. The group initially worked with the State Government to find a suitable camp site, but the relationship broke down when the Government failed to meet a deadline imposed by the protesters. “While we are disappointed the ministers were not able to meet deadline on our request, we thank them for their constructive approach towards negotiations and the open-door policy exercised,” said Targan.

A spokesman for Games Minister Justin Madden said the Government was still investigating other sites. Victoria Police Games security commander Brendan Bannan said he was not convinced the Black GST represented the views of most indigenous people. “We are dealing with the Aboriginal community and they don’t seem to support it at all … the wider Aboriginal community don’t support disruption to the Games at all,” he said.

The Government was told that Black GST supporters would camp in Fitzroy Gardens and other city parks should it fail to nominate a site. A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavan Jennings said the Government was taking the issue seriously, but had not been able to finalise a campsite before the deadline.

Under special Games laws, people protesting or causing a disturbance in “Games management zones” can be arrested and fined. While prominent public spaces such as Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, Albert Park and the Alexandra Gardens fall under the legislation, such tough anti-protest laws cannot be enforced in the nearby Fitzroy Gardens.

Games chairman Ron Walker has urged the group to choose another date for its protest march through the city, which is currently planned to coincide with the opening ceremony on March 15. The group believes that an opportunity to gain attention for indigenous issues was lost at the Sydney Olympics and has vowed to make a highly visible presence at the Games.

The Black GST said the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s sacred flame, burning over many years at the Canberra site will be carried to Melbourne before the Games, and its arrival would mark the opening of the protest camp from where a march will proceed to the MCG before the Opening Ceremony.

Black GST claims supporters from all over Australia, including three busloads from the West Australian Land Council, will gather in Melbourne during the Games for peaceful protests.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings had offered Victoria Park to the protesters. Victoria Park, former home of Collingwood Football Club, where one of the strongest statements of Aboriginal pride, when St Kilda star Nicky Winmar in 1993 raised his jumper and pointed to his bare chest after racial taunts from the Collingwood crowd.

Black GST, which has labelled the Games the Stolenwealth Games, said the State Government had failed to find a suitable venue. Black GST may encourage protesters to camp in prominent parks such as Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens. Graffiti supporting the action has also appeared in central Melbourne.

Melbourne City councillor Fraser Brindley has offered his home to the Black GST organisers. “I offered my home up to people who are organising visitors to come to the Games,” he said. Cr Brindley will be overseas when the Commonwealth Games are held and has offered the free accommodation at his flat at Parkville. He said he agreed with the protesters’ view that treaties needed to be signed with indigenous Australians. “I’m offering it up to the indigenous people who are coming to remind Her Majesty that her Empire took this land from them,” said Cr Brindlley. Nationals leader Peter Ryan said: “This extremist group has no part in the Australian community.” Melbourne councillor Peter Clarke said the actions were embarrassing and that he would try to discourage him. “It’s not in the spirit of the Games,” he said.

Aboriginal elder, Targan, said the possibility of securing Victoria Park was delightfully ironic. “There’s a lot of irony going on,” Targan, 53, a PhD student at Melbourne University, said. “GST stands for Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty. We want the genocide of our people to stop; we want some sovereignty over traditional land, certainly how it is used, and we want a treaty with the government,” Targan said.